From Dartmoor to Dawlish

A Good Time of Year

Late September is a good time for landscape photography. Sunset isn’t too late, and sunrise isn’t too early. This means I can do both back to back without feeling like it just killed me. I still remember back in July this year when I photographed Daymark tower for sunset and then Start Point for sunrise. While I had a lot of fun with the friends that joined me, the late finish and very early start just about killed me.

When some welcome settled weather came in recently, I thought I would maximise my shooting opportunities and go out and photograph both sunset and sunrise. But where would I go?

Dusk at Dartmoor

As is normally the way, I was, of course a little short of time so I had to go somewhere local. Fortunately for me, I live near Dartmoor so I’m a little spoilt for locations on my doorstep. Though the weather was settled, it was looking like there would be little in the way of cloud.

I had a number of ideas of what to shoot including the view from Rippon Tor and Honeybag Tor, but the conditions just weren’t going to be right for those elevated viewpoints. I remembered that Haytor Rocks often gets the evening light so I decided to photograph it from Saddle Tor. By photographing from Saddle Tor I could position Haytor Rocks above the horizon and into the only real interesting part of the sky that evening.

Haytor Rocks at Dusk, Dartmoor, Devon - Nikon D850, Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 at 62 mm, 1/3 sec at ISO 64, f/11. Lee Filters ND Grad, single image crop at 6:17.

The image I took is actually a panoramic crop from a single frame. My original composition had Haytor in the lower third of the frame with the rest of the frame being taken up by the sky. My original “big sky” shot might have worked a little better if there had been a bit more interest in the sky, but the lower band of haze in the sky was the only area to get colour. As it turned out, I rather like the panoramic crop so can be reasonably happy with the final output.

Dawn at Dawlish Warren

The morning weather forecast for the following day looked to have a bit more cloud so I decided to head to one of my favourite locations, Dawlish Warren. I tend not to visit Dawlish Warren during the summer months but now sunrise isn’t so early I decided it was time to visit my old friend.

Shooting at dawn is one of my favourite times of the day. There is a sense of excitement as the sun starts to rise and deliver some of its magical morning light. On this morning though, that display of golden light probably wasn’t going to happen. You can plan all you like, check tides, and look at weather forecasts, but if a bank of cloud happens to position itself in the wrong location, all that amazing light you were looking for can be lost.

It’s important to remember though that good morning light can occur 30 minutes before and after sunrise. Even though I didn’t get the best of the light as the sun approached the horizon, I’m glad I stuck around to capture this long exposure.

Into the Sea, Dawlish Warren, Devon - Nikon D850, Nikkor 24-70 mm f/2.8 at 48 mm, 339 seconds at ISO 64, f/11. Lee Filters Circular Polariser and ND Grad,

While this image was captured after sunrise, the long exposure helps capture what light there was and the calmness of the ocean that morning.

It’s always fascinating to see how other photographers interpret the same scene so I was really interested to see how Neil Burnell, who was with me that morning, shot the same scene. Check out his Instagram post to see his take on the beach that morning.

What is your favourite time of day to shoot? Do you use techniques like ICM or long exposures to create a sense of mood? Let me know in the comments below.